You Either Get A Restaurant Or Die
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Most food truck owners actually buy a truck as a stepping stone toward either getting hired as a chef or starting their own brick-and-mortar restaurant. The food truck acts like a combination viral marketing campaign and mobile testing lab. Many new restaurants fail because they wind up with a bad location. Starting off with a food truck is a good way to know in advance if a location is highly trafficked, sparsely populated, or haunted by a pesky old man pretending to be a ghost in order to drive real estate prices down.
Parking there in a food truck named "You Meddling Ribs" was just a happy coincidence.
But here's the thing -- most food trucks make only enough to (barely) pay the bills. Josh is still going (and was able to get started only after winning on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), but Lawrence had to end it after two years because he was barely breaking even. He went back to working in other people's food trucks.
Via Josh Gatewood
Pictured: Josh's Truck. Also, the very concept of patriotism, on wheels.
The trick is to make good food that's unique enough to draw people in, but not crazy enough to scare them away. To the man on the street, food trucks are a slightly more convenient, slightly cheaper alternative to sitting down in a restaurant. But to the people who run them, they're a dangerous gamble, a lottery ticket that might net them a hit restaurant, break their credit history forever, or explode half a city block when the propane line knocked loose by a pothole meets the stoner toking up behind the truck to "really get in the burrito zone."
Evan V. Symon is the Personal Experience Team interview finder guy. If you have an awesome experience or job you would like to see as an article, hit up the tipline at email@example.com. Lawrence has a radio show on food every Thursday night at 8 p.m. PT here. Josh is on Twitter, and if you are in New York, stop by his food truck and eat the best chicken tenders ever. They taste like America.
For more insider perspectives, check out 4 Lies Reality Shows Rely On (That Are Worse Than You Think) and 5 Disgusting Truths About Every Restaurant (From a Chef).
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Check out Robert Evans' A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization, a celebration of the brave, drunken pioneers who built our civilization one seemingly bad decision at a time.